Bleach: Arrancar Arc (Episodes 161 – 167) Review

These episodes are the last before the first big break in the Arrancar Arc adaptation (not that you’ll notice as we cover the arc on this blog!) and are also the last ones in 4:3 aspect ratio. Thankfully they “go out with a bang” as they adapt the third and final fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow, and adapt it well too! … Unlike a lot of the other stuff, sadly. Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Ichigo is still running towards Inoue with hopes to rescue her, but he is soon side tracked by Ulquiorra. Meanwhile Renji is trapped with the mad Arrancar scientist Syzelaporro, unable to fight back…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Ichigo grabs Grimmjow’s hand…. to then attack him, it’s not a nice thing.

Most of these episodes focus on our lead protagonist (along with Nel) as he runs into Ulquiorra on his way to finding Inoue. Initially willing to just run as he “has no beef” with Ulquiorra, when the Arrancar reveals it was him who forced his friend to Hueco Mundo in the first place Ichigo attacks with all his might… only for his opponent to compliment him on making him take both his hands out of his pockets to block it. Ichigo tries to run as Ulquiorra fires back, but only succeeds in being kicked into another building. In one of the all-time great Bleach moments Ichigo tries to stab his sword into Ulquiorra’s chest, claiming that if he can just defeat him, the strongest Arrancar, then the army will lose moral only for his opponent to move the sword to cut his clothes open and reveal he’s the Number 4 ranked Arrancar in the Espada and therefore there are three stronger than him. I can remember the “holy *bleep*” moment when I first saw that. Great stuff. He plunges his hand into Ichigo’s chest and leaves him to die…

Meanwhile Grimmjow arrives at Inoue’s cell and takes out two jealous Arrancar that were tormenting the poor girl and “rescues” her… only to bring her to Ichigo so she can heal him in order for the two of them to fight to the death. As Orihime heals her friend Ulquiorra arrives and tries to stop the whole thing, but Grimmjow uses some weird prison-cube thing that traps Espada #4 in a separate dimension for a few hours. This leads to a full on fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow, including Ichigo having greater mastery of his mask powers and Grimmjow releasing his Resurrección and regaining his more panther-like form. After a strong back and forth battle and an interesting flashback to when Grimmjow and his old Fracción were just regular Hollows Ichigo wins after finding the resolve to fight after Inoue cheers him on instead of recoiling in fear at his Hollow form like she did at the start of the battle.

Grimmjow’s released state, plus his main attack of “Desgarron”, because Arrancar’s stuff have to have Spanish names!

The rest of the episodes focus mainly on the fight against Syzelaporro Grantz. Renji, who is unable to use his Bankai is struggling against his opponents modified Fracción before being saved by an arriving Uryu… only for Uryu’s Quincy powers to also be sealed. They eventually come up with a plan that involves Renji pretty much self-destructing by badly using Kido magic right next to his foe, making the Arrancar step back into a special explosive Quincy trap set by Uryu. It successfully damages Espada #8, but he restores his health by eating one of his own soldiers alive and then buggers off to change his clothes… It’s okay, I enjoy Uryu’s “I’ve outsmarted you, hooray!” dialogue, short-lived though it is, and Grantz is an amusing villain. It does stretch on though, if memory serves…

The Bad:

Syzelaporro pulls out his sword in the most awkward to draw / animate way possible. Bastard.

I know I mention it every time but the censorship hits its all-time worse here. When Ichigo is beaten senseless and then has Ulquiorra’s hand literally stabbed into his chest he’s left lying with nothing but black lines and a black hole. It’s frustrating as it robs the scene of so much impact, and other fights have at least allowed the odd bit of running very dark red blood, if only for a short while. The Ichigo v Grimmjow fight is better, though most of the actual blood comes from Grimmjow, probably due to some silly thing to do with him not looking as human.

Then there’s Syzelaporro, who not only gets blown up and is left with just black smudges but his eating his own underling is completely changed. In the Manga he actually grabs it and takes a bit out of its head before devouring it mostly off-panel, here it turns his Fracción into a glowing purple sphere and bites that instead. Again, it does eventually get better, but it’s frustrating going back through it again like this…

Overall Thoughts:

There is it, the second best number reveal in Bleach history!

These seven episodes were at least a good point to stop for a while, back when it aired, as Ichigo vs. Grimmjow was a big battle and moment in the arc. Thankfully that battle is handled well but sadly a lot of the other stuff is censored to hell. I can deal with a little bit of censorship but this was far too excessive! The Grimmjow battle combined with the classic Ulquiorra reveal does make me want to give it a 4, but it’s a 4 that’s far closer to a 3 than I’d like…

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